Jusuf Nurkic

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Mitchell, Billups, Nurkic

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly realizes it was a risk dealing so many draft picks and rotation players for Rudy Gobert but felt the club needed another impact player to get to the next level, he told Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on a podcast.

“We’re trying to redefine how the league views us,” Connelly said. “We knew we gave up a lot, but the hardest thing to find is elite talent and elite ‘happy’ talent is even harder to find.”

However, there will be a transition period. “It won’t be easy or seamless,” Connelly added. “I’m sure there will be some clunky moments initially. But we felt like we took a huge step forward with the acquisition of Rudy.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Donovan Mitchell thanked former Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Utah fans in an Instagram post as he waits for the blockbuster deal with the Cavaliers to become official. “Thank you for the memories and the incredible times… you guys watched me grow up on and off the floor… Coach Quin thank you for giving me the opportunity and trusting me to lead this team for the past 5 years‼️”
  • Grading the impending deal, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News gives the Jazz a B-plus and the Cavs a B. Todd notes the Jazz accomplished their goal of trying to get younger and to come away with some assets for future use. There’s also the possibility of Mitchell or some of Cleveland’s other stars eventually bolting in free agency, which would make those unprotected picks and pick swaps even more valuable.
  • Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups is at the EuroBasket tournament in Germany and feels it’s important to show support for his players, such as Bosnia’s Jusuf Nurkic, he told Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net. “I love to see guys go play on their national teams,” Billups said. “Because you’re playing the right way. You’re playing with a purpose and obviously because of that experience  you’ll be in shape.”

More Than 30 NBA Players On Track To Suit Up For EuroBasket

The first EuroBasket tournament in five years will tip off in two weeks and there are currently 34 NBA players on track to participate in the event, representing 17 different countries, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net.

EuroBasket is a 24-team international basketball competition also known as the European Basketball Championship. It historically took place every two years, but that gap was recently adjusted to four years, emulating the FIBA World Cup schedule.

The last EuroBasket tournament was played in 2017 — the next one had been scheduled for 2021, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. As a result, after being played every two years since 1947, it has now been five years since the last EuroBasket tournament, easily the longest layoff since World War II.

It’s possible that some NBA players will be cut from their teams’ rosters or will have to drop out due to injuries or personal reasons before the event begins on September 1, but in general enthusiasm to participate in the long-awaited event appears high.

Here’s the list of NBAers currently set to play in EuroBasket, per Eurohoops:

There are also multiple NBA free agents on EuroBasket rosters, including French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and German guard Dennis Schröder.

A number of young NBA players, such as 2022 draftees Jeremy Sochan and Nikola Jovic, have dropped out to focus on getting ready for the 2022/23 season, while others, including Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) and Frank Ntilikina (France), were ruled out due to injuries.

Round robin play will begin on September 1, with each team facing the other five clubs in its group once. The top four teams in each group will advance to a 16-team bracket that begins on September 10. The final will take place on September 18, just over a week before NBA training camps get underway.

Contract Details: Drummond, Jones, LaVine, Cancar, Martin, Nurkic

The two-year contracts that Andre Drummond and Derrick Jones signed with the Bulls have virtually identical terms. Both players will earn guaranteed $3.2MM salaries in 2022/23, with $3.36MM player options for the ’23/24 season, Hoops Rumors has learned. The only real difference between the two deals is how the Bulls completed them — Drummond received a portion of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, while Jones was re-signed using his Non-Bird rights.

Here are more details on recently signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • Zach LaVine‘s five-year, maximum-salary contract with the Bulls includes a 15% trade kicker, Hoops Rumors has learned. For 2022/23, at least, that kicker will be inconsequential since LaVine is already earning the max, but it could be a factor later in his deal if the annual salary cap increases outpace his annual 8% raises.
  • Vlatko Cancar‘s three-year contract with the Nuggets features matching $2,234,359 cap hits in each of the first two seasons, plus a $2,346,606 team option for 2024/25. The first two years are guaranteed.
  • Heat forward Caleb Martin received a starting salary of $6,479,000, which is the full portion of the taxpayer mid-level exception. Miami remains below the tax apron, so the team can use the rest of the non-taxpayer MLE (approximately $4MM more) if it so chooses. Martin also got a third-year player option and a 15% trade kicker on his new three-year deal.
  • Jusuf Nurkic‘s four-year, $70MM contract with the Trail Blazers is fully guaranteed and is structured with standard 8% annual raises. It starts at $15,625,000 in 2022/23 and increases to $19,375,000 by year four in ’25/26.

Jusuf Nurkic Signs Four-Year Deal With Trail Blazers

JULY 6: The Trail Blazers put out a press release officially announcing Nurkic’s new contract. The announcement included a statement from GM Joe Cronin, who said it was “incredibly important” to bring back the veteran center as a key piece of the team’s core.

“Nurk’s physicality, rebounding prowess and defensive acumen make him an integral part of what we do on both sides of the ball,” Cronin said.


JULY 1: The Trail Blazers will re-sign center Jusuf Nurkic at $70MM over four seasons, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Nurkic’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, confirmed the agreement.

The deal shows that Nurkic is still viewed as part of the future in Portland. There had been speculation around the trade deadline that he might be moved as part of a rebuild, but the Blazers have been heading in the other direction, making roster moves aimed at a quick return to contention.

Nurkic, 27, averaged 15.0 points and 11.1 rebounds last season, but he was sidelined by plantar fasciitis in mid-February. With Portland well out of the playoff race, the team opted to not have Nurkic try to return for the end of the season.

Nurkic started his NBA career with the Nuggets, but was traded to the Blazers in 2017 after Nikola Jokic emerged as a star in Denver. He overcame a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula in 2019 and was fully healthy heading into last season.

Re-signing Nurkic ends any interest that Portland may have had in the Suns’ Deandre Ayton. The Blazers had been mentioned as a possible destination for the free agent center.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report first reported earlier in the week that a four-year deal in the range of $17MM per year for Nurkic and the Blazers was a likely outcome. It’s a pay raise for the big man, whose last contract was worth $48MM over four years.

Portland has been busy so far in free agency, reaching multiyear agreements with Anfernee Simons and Gary Payton II in addition to Nurkic.

Trail Blazers Rumors: Lillard, Nurkic, Simons, Ingles

Damian Lillard only appeared in 29 games for the Trail Blazers during the 2021/22 and posted career-worst shooting percentages of 40.2% from the floor and 32.4% on threes before undergoing abdominal surgery. However, it doesn’t appear as if Lillard’s down year will stand in the way of an opportunity to secure another substantial payday this offseason.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, there’s an expectation that the Blazers will offer the six-time All-Star a two-year contract extension worth north of $100MM.

If Lillard agrees to sign that extension, he would likely exercise his $48.8MM player option for 2024/25 as part of the deal and tack two new years onto the three he still has left on his current contract. It would put him in line to earn upwards of $240MM over the next five seasons, depending on the exact value of the extension.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • There’s a belief among league personnel that Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will sign a four-year deal with an average annual value around $17MM to remain in Portland, Fischer reports. Nurkic’s previous four-year contract, signed in 2018, was worth $12MM per year.
  • Like Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Fischer has heard that a new contract for restricted free agent guard Anfernee Simons will be in the range of $80MM over four years, plus incentives. Simons is expected to stick with the Blazers.
  • Free agent forward Joe Ingles, who is recovering from a torn ACL, has been doing some of his rehab work in Portland and there’s a belief he could re-sign with the Trail Blazers despite having been acquired after he was injured, sources tell Bleacher Report. However, Fischer cautions that Ingles seems to have “plenty of interest” from other teams as well.

Northwest Notes: Green, Hart, Timberwolves Draft, Jazz Targets

JaMychal Green was officially traded to the Thunder by the Nuggets on Thursday, but it’s unlikely the forward will ever suit up for Oklahoma City. General manager Sam Presti says they’ll look to trade Green, Brandon Rahbar of the Daily Thunder tweets. Green, 32, is at the stage of his career where he provides greater value to a contender than a rebuilding team. He’s on an $8.2MM expiring contract for 2022/23.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Josh Hart had his $12.96MM contract guaranteed by the Trail Blazers over the weekend. However, it shouldn’t have major implications on Portland’s offseason moves, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The Blazers now have $105MM in guaranteed contracts but they’re over the cap because of the free agent holds on Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic. They still could have the flexibility to re-sign those two free agents and use the full $10.5MM mid-level exception to pursue outside targets.
  • The Timberwolves prioritized rebounding in the draft and addressed that by making moves to select Auburn’s Walker Kessler, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. Kessler was the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year. They also wound up with Duke wing Wendell Moore late in the first round and Memphis wing Josh Minott and Italian guard Matteo Spagnolo in the second round. President of basketball operations Tim Connelly isn’t expecting too much out of those rookies. “We don’t want to put too much expectations on their ability to contribute right away,” he told The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski. “When you have a team that had as much success as we did, it’s hard to put that on your shoulders.”
  • What might the Jazz do with their taxpayer mid-level exception in free agency? Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune lists 25 potential free agent targets — breaking them down into wings, guards and bigs.

Stein’s Latest: Looney, Simons, Nurkic, Clippers, Wall, More

Teams interested in pursuing center Kevon Looney this offseason are increasingly pessimistic that they’ll be able to lure him away from the Warriors, league sources tell Marc Stein (Substack link). According to Stein, there’s an expectation that Looney will likely re-sign with Golden State on a multiyear deal when he becomes a free agent this week.

Stein writes that there has been similar pessimism from the teams with interest in making a run at Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons or center Jusuf Nurkic. Simons is a restricted free agent while Nurkic is unrestricted, but the belief among rival teams is that both players will remain in Portland, per Stein.

Here are a few more updates from the veteran NBA reporter:

  • Stein says league sources reiterated to him on Monday that the Clippers will be making a “strong pitch” to John Wall if the veteran point guard reaches a buyout agreement with Houston. There’s a sense that the presence of head coach Tyronn Lue will help increase L.A.’s chances of landing Wall, Stein adds.
  • While they stayed put on draft night, Hawks big man John Collins and Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon remain highly likely to be traded this offseason, sources tell Stein.
  • Following a strong year overseas with AS Monaco, big man Donta Hall is receiving interest from NBA teams, according to Stein. Hall, a former Alabama standout, appeared in a total of 22 games for Detroit, Brooklyn, and Orlando in 2020 and 2021.

Scotto’s Latest: Wizards, T. Jones, Brunson, Knicks, Ayton, More

The Wizards used their No. 10 overall pick on Thursday night to land one of the top guards in this year’s draft, selecting Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis. However, the Wizards remain in the market for veteran help at the point guard spot, and Grizzlies free agent Tyus Jones is among the players on their radar, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

As Scotto explains, Washington should have the flexibility to use the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception and could make a compelling bid for Jones. The club could potentially give him the opportunity to start, which Jones “ideally desires,” writes Scotto.

The Grizzlies hold Jones’ Bird rights, giving them the ability to make a strong offer to retain Jones. Memphis’ decision to trade De’Anthony Melton to Philadelphia perhaps signaled that re-signing Jones will be an offseason priority, though the team did draft a potential backup point guard in Kennedy Chandler on Thursday night.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • Rival NBA executives believe the Knicks are “all-in” for Jalen Brunson after making efforts to open up cap space on Thursday. Taj Gibson and his $5MM+ non-guaranteed salary will likely be waived to create more cap flexibility, says Scotto.
  • The Knicks will have to open up more cap room to make a serious bid for Brunson, and Scotto reiterates that Cam Reddish and Alec Burks are possible trade candidates. Reddish was part of one of the offers New York sent to the Pistons for Jaden Ivey, according to Scotto, who says Burks has been offered to the Cavaliers and Pacers, among other teams.
  • In considering potential landing spots for Suns RFA center Deandre Ayton, Scotto writes that people around the NBA have speculated about a possible sign-and-trade deal involving Pacers center Myles Turner — both players are represented by the same agent, Bill Duffy. Previous reports have indicated the Pacers spoke to the Suns prior to the trade deadline about Ayton.
  • The Trail Blazers have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Ayton, but they remain intent on re-signing incumbent center Jusuf Nurkic, league sources tell Scotto.
  • Although EuroLeague star Vasilije Micic is interested in coming to the NBA for the 2022/23 season, he wants to join a playoff contender and is interested in a salary worth close to the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, says Scotto. The Thunder may have to trade Micic’s draft rights for those goals to come to fruition.

Fischer’s Latest: Ayton, Nurkic, Anunoby, Dort, Turner, Sharpe

The Trail Blazers are no longer viewed as a suitor for restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. According to Fischer, Portland plans to re-sign starting center Jusuf Nurkic, who is an unrestricted free agent, and hopes to acquire Raptors forward OG Anunoby in exchange for a package headlined by the No. 7 overall pick of the 2022 draft.

However, Anunoby might not be the only target for the Blazers. It’s been rumored that the Thunder are trying to move up in the lottery, and Fischer reports that “there has been increasing talk” about Portland sending the No. 7 pick to OKC in exchange for No. 12 and a “package that could include” Luguentz Dort.

The three most realistic landing spots for Ayton, aside from re-signing with the Suns, appear to be the Hawks, Pistons and Raptors, says Fischer, adding that all three clubs have interesting pieces to dangle in a possible sign-and-trade for the center.

Echoing a report from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Fischer states that the Pacers could also be a possibility for Ayton in a sign-and-trade deal involving Myles Turner. The two players are both represented by agent Bill Duffy, Fischer notes (hat tip to RealGM).

According to Fischer, Shaedon Sharpe may be a candidate to fall in the lottery after a series of underwhelming workouts ahead of the draft. Fischer says Sharpe’s range might begin at No. 8, but he could also be a target of teams who try to acquire the No. 7 pick from Portland. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported yesterday that the Thunder are high on Sharpe.

Blazers Rumors: Beal, LaVine, Bridges, Grant, Collins

The Trail Blazers are exploring the trade market in search of veterans who can help Damian Lillard get the team back into the playoffs, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who observes that Portland has a handful of assets in hand to offer up in possible deals.

Besides the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft, the Blazers also have a trade exception worth nearly $21MM, Josh Hart and his team-friendly contract, Eric Bledsoe‘s expiring deal (Bledsoe’s partial guarantee could be increased as needed for salary-matching purposes), future draft picks, and possibly Jusuf Nurkic as a sign-and-trade candidate.

Here’s more from O’Connor on the players Portland could go after this summer:

  • Sources tell The Ringer that free-agents-to-be Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine are potential Blazers targets, though it’s unclear if they’ll be willing to leave the Wizards and Bulls, respectively, for Portland. Lillard and Beal are friends who played together for Team USA, O’Connor notes.
  • Hornets restricted free agent forward Miles Bridges is a player worth keeping an eye on for the Blazers, sources tell O’Connor. The team is in the market for a big wing who can help on defense and be a secondary offensive play-maker, and Bridges fits the bill. Again though, it remains to be seen if Portland will be able to pry away Bridges from his current team, especially since Charlotte will be able to match any offer sheet.
  • Pistons forward Jerami Grant is another two-way wing frequently mentioned as a target for Portland, as O’Connor observes. In his latest Substack article, Marc Stein writes that the Hawks continue to register interest in Grant, but the Blazers would likely be able to outbid Atlanta and other Grant suitors if they’re willing to include the No. 7 pick in their offer.
  • Hawks big man John Collins is also frequently cited as a player on the Blazers’ radar, according to O’Connor, who suggests Collins would be more of a lob threat – and more versatile defensively – than Nurkic.